New Zealand sides too good in PRC Underline 05 March, 2011 The IRB Pacific Rugby Cup 2011 kicked off its New Zealand Series on Friday with Tonga A and Fiji Warriors finding the Chiefs Development side and Crusader Knights too hot to handle respectively.

The fourth round of the new-look competition will conclude on Saturday when Samoa A, who lead the standings on point differential from the Warriors, take on a Hurricanes Development XV at Porirua Park.


The opening match of the New Zealand Series saw the Crusader Knights prove too strong across the park for the Air Pacific Fiji Warriors, running out convincing 55-7 winners at Carisbrook.

In a match moved to the Dunedin venue following last week’s devastating earthquake in Christchurch, the Knights ran in seven tries against a side which had won two and lost one of their matches on Australian soil last month.

The Crusader Knights opened the scoring with wing Johnny McNicholl’s ninth minute try, but their visitors hit back quickly with centre Ravai Fataki touching down to make it 7-7 as the match shaped up to be an even contest.

However, the clinical approach of the New Zealand side, featuring a number of Baby Blacks who won the IRB Junior World Championship title last year, ultimately proved too much for the flair of the Pacific Islanders.

Both sides displayed plenty of endeavour throughout, with fly halves Taniela Maravunawasawasa and Tyler Bleyendaal looking to release the players outside, although the Knights had better execution and were deserving winners.

Full back Sam Monaghan, centre Sione Holani and captain Luke Whitelock all crossed for first half tries as the Crusader Knights began to pull clear of the Warriors to establish a commanding 31-7 advantage at the break.

The Crusader Knights picked up where they had left off with McNicholl claiming his second try of the afternoon within minutes of the restart, before prop Andrew Olorenshaw scored either side of a try from second row Luke Romano.


Tonga A arrived in New Zealand buoyed by their first victory of the new-look IRB Pacific Rugby Cup earlier this week, but found the Chiefs Development side too hot to handle in losing 50-13 at the Bayer Growers Stadium in Pukekohe.

The match was played in pouring rain, resulting in the early exchanges being dominated by handling errors with both sides finding it difficult to hang on to the slippery ball as the Tongans kept their hosts at bay with some solid defence.

Trent Renata, a former New Zealand Under 20 star, missed a 14th minute penalty attempt, before Tonga A launched a promising break, only to see the space shut down and the Chiefs Development team work their down field for number 8 Matt vant Leven to score the opening try.

The Chiefs Development team then began to take control with centre Phil Burleigh, local favourite Jamie Chipman and Renata crossing for tries to extend the advantage to 24-0 before Tonga A fly half Edmond Paea got the visitors on the board with a penalty just before the break.

Some quick hands by the Chiefs outfit resulted in a second try for second row Chipman in the 50th minute, with former NZ Sevens star Save Tokula adding a sixth try for the hosts before the hour mark.

Paea kicked another penalty, but the Chiefs Development side were in no mood to let up despite the rain continuing to bucket down, flankers Sam Cane and Taiasina touching down to bring up the half century.

There was still time, though, for the Tongans to delight the crowd by going the full length of the field for Paula Kaho to score a consolation try, Viliami Hakalo adding the conversion on the final hooter.

“The weather made it really hard for the boys, they are not used to the wet conditions but it was great to have a run and score that try for our supporters at the end,” admitted Tonga A captain Josateki Veikune.

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